Alliance for the Separation of School & State
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The Education Liberator, Vol. 3, No. 3, April 1997

It's not the children who are stupid

by Ned Vare

Children are smart but schools are stupid. Let me use our local school system as an example. It has a life of its own and is out of our control. It doesn't reveal its goals nor describe its methods; it is disingenuous and coercive and often harms children; it doesn't answer questions and takes no responsibility for the students. Such a system doesn't make sense in a community that's sophisticated and caring, as I believe ours to be.

The kids are divided into three groups: the dumb, the bright and the rest. (Schools love to sort kids and pretend to know what's good for them when in fact they don't.) For the dumb and bright, the scam is special ed and it's expanding. Of course, when everybody's special, nobody is, and that's the real goal. The words change: gifted is now called "advanced placement;" instead of special ed we get "affective-ed." The sales pitch is convincing: "Special treatment, small group sessions, individualized..." The result is that more and more unsuspecting families are swallowed up by this federal-assisted psychomanagement that offers less and less learning.

For the rest of the students, the school day is pastimes like group singing, TV game shows, self-esteem sessions and, for one of our fifth grades, a four-month study of postal abbreviations. We are paying retail for wholesale schooling: 3,365 full-time equivalent teachers equals average class size of 12 when the contract allows 28. Thus the budget is $7 million too high at the same time that we are being asked to vote for another huge spending increase.

If parents ran the schools, would we pay for the above? Would we even allow it? Not on your life. Only with exorbitant taxation and the misguided backing of government can our officials get away with such deception.

Ned Vare lives in Guilford, Connecticut. He's a homeschooling father and is the Separation Alliance provisional state coordinator for Connecticut .

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